Breaking the Status Quo of CX — Part 1

AvatarRichard Boehmcke | July 31, 2019

A sobering stat has been making the rounds in customer experience (CX) circles lately: 93 percent of organizations fail to differentiate on CX, according to CX thought leader Bob Thompson. And this comes at a time when 89 percent of organizations said they were expecting to compete on CX, per Gartner Research.

What’s happening? Is CX at risk of becoming a fad? Will executives abandon CX to focus on the next shiny object?

Rest assured, the principles of CX are here to stay. The problem, according to former Forrester analyst Paul Hagen, is implementation. Hagen asserts that 75 percent of companies don’t execute CX successfully. By that, he means that companies don’t use the customer insights they gain to drive critical organizational changes.

Your organization can break the mold. Here are three steps you can take to build a thriving CX program and rise above the CX status quo.

#1: Set CX Up for Success

Where the CX function sits in your organization affects its ability to perform. While there’s no magic answer, there are some proven principles to follow.

First, there should be a centralized CX function in your organization. Ideally, you’ll have a chief customer officer (CCO) to lead and champion CX at the C-suite level. Your CCO is responsible for setting the bar. He or she will have strategic oversight and will rally momentum around CX — but the accountability for its success doesn’t rest there.

In some of the best-run CX programs, CX extends beyond that central function. Many successful programs have a change coalition with representatives in every function in the organization. That way, you can embed CX and ensure it flows into every corner of the business.

What if your company doesn’t appoint a CCO? That doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility to drive CX forward. You can start CX in a corner of the business and build out from there; CX may take root in a marketing or support function, for example. And you may have to take a more “grassroots” approach to grow energy around it. It may take intense relationship building and a dedication to communicating CX results. In time, as CX proves its merits, a path to centralized CX leadership will become available. Then the influence of CX in your organization will multiply.

#2: Know the Roles and Skills Needed on Your CX Team

You likely envision the typical CX practitioner as a charismatic and outspoken person with a passion for making things just right for customers.

It’s true that a strong, articulate leader is essential for every CX team, but it’s not the only skill set you need. Every CX team needs — at a minimum — these four elements:

  • Visionary – Describes where the organization needs to go to serve customers and lights the fire for CX.
  • Strategist – Knows that CX is more than fluffy, feel-good words about customer happiness. He or she knows how to connect vision to reality and equips the visionary with words to tell the CX story.
  • Architect – Understands how to design and structure a long-term CX program. He or she can devise milestones that drive activity to meet CX goals.
  • Logistician – Stays on top of the metrics that underpin a CX initiative. He or she tracks the data that proves the ROI of CX works.

In a small CX program, you may wear more than one hat. You may have to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone to take on different roles. As your program grows, you can add more team members. Make sure they bring complementary strengths to build a well-rounded CX program. Never hire carbon copies of yourself.

#3: Avoid the “Battering Ram” Approach

Chances are, a passion for customers drew you to the CX profession. You believe what you do is important and have a deep desire to evangelize CX to others.

Enthusiasm is valuable, but don’t try to overrun the existing infrastructure. Remember that your organization is successful for a reason, it does some things very well. You’re better off aligning with what works rather than trying to push for a new way.

How can you align CX with existing operations? Find out core key performance indicators (KPIs) in organizations you want to influence. And show people in those organizations how CX can support performance improvements.

Don’t use your chosen CX metric, whether Net Promoter Score or any other, as a battering ram. Don’t insist that your metric should be everyone’s No. 1 concern. Instead, find out what metrics matter to different functions.

Demonstrate that improvements in your CX metric can enhance their outcomes. That will win you support and buy-in.

Your CX Wake-Up Call

Industry watchers have sounded the alarm and let us all know that something needs to change. Half-hearted attempts at CX won’t work — we all need to take steps to make CX core to the way we do business.

Fortunately, there are many models of successful CX programs. What sets those innovators apart? Many leading programs have a CCO to set the vision and sustain company-wide focus on customers. Also, CX teams include a well-rounded mix of skills, including passionate visionaries and detail-oriented analysts.

CX innovators work hard to rally the organization behind customer needs. They understand different organizations’ success drivers. And they show how CX helps every function meet its performance goals.

When you focus on these three elements, a stronger CX program will follow. But there’s more can you do. Watch this space for the next post in this series and learn three more tactics to break out of the CX status quo.